The Danish power trio Papir, which consists of guitarist/keyboardist Nicklas Sorensen, bassist/keyboardist Christian Becher Clausen, and drummer Christoffer Brochmann Christensen, have built a steady discography of forward-thinking improvisational music for over a decade now. Their fusion of Krautrock, psych, post-rock, and prog tendencies has put them at the forefront of modern instrumental rock. With each release the band got tighter, heavier, and more expansive, and their run of releases on El Paraiso Records was nothing short of brilliant(Stundum is a modern classic.)
In 2017 the band started a new string of releases with Stickman Records, and in turn continued to refine their sound. They honed their style into a sound that felt very in-the-moment and improvisational in a jazz sense, keeping the NEU! and Can aesthetics while clicking like jazz musicians in the studio.
Their latest, the aptly-titled Jams, is just that. It’s as close to rock and roll free flight as you can get while still sounding composed and arranged. This is what Kid Icarus would’ve been listening to right before he got too close to the sun.
According to guitarist Nicklas Sorensen, “This record is a product of the jams we did during our recording sessions in The Black Tornado Studio last year. So is this the raw uncensored version of Papir? No, not really. There are always choices to make, so we picked out the best jams for you.” So no, these aren’t raw, uncensored sessions per say. They’re those raw jams curated and presented in their best form. You think Bitches Brew and In A Silent Way were just open jams slapped onto vinyl sides? Nah, they were heavily curated, edited, and cut-and-pasted sessions by Miles and Teo, man. Even improvised jams need a little proper forming.
“17.01.2020 #1” is the first epic we come to. This is the perfect example of the sound world Papir create when they’re together. An ebb and flow of power, precision, and grand delicacies for the senses. A steady rhythm section builds a solid foundation for Sorensen to lay down some ethereal guitar. 13 minutes into this 20-minute session and the song dissipates into ambient vibes. We free float for the remainder of the song. “17.01.2020 #2” feels tribal in nature with back masked guitar adding a dreamy quality. “20.01.2020 #1” has Christensen and Clausen laying down one hell of a groove, opening a freeway of musical opportunity for Nicklas Sorensen to build on top of.
I’m reminded of the A2 project that Nicklas Sorensen and Christian Becher Clausen started a couple of years ago. Guitar and bass improvisations that were far spacier in nature and Komische in feel, they seem to have opened to the door for this full-on Papir treatment to improvisational jams.
Jams sees Papir stretching their improvisational muscles to their fullest extent. Over the course of six extended tracks recorded in two different sessions, Sorensen, Clausen, and Christensen make epic songs for us to get lost in. The movements flow effortlessly and never meander. It’s a sound world worth getting lost in. Jams is another stunner from Papir.
8.1 out of 10
‘Jams’ is available now. Buy it here.